When designing a resistance training routine, you will commonly find yourself buried under a wealth of similar techniques working similar areas of the body. The pushup and floor press are two such techniques. Both are useful exercises for working the chest but differ in slight ways that could mean a significant difference for a long-term resistance training routine. So before you close your eyes and throw a dart at one option, review the differences between these techniques. You might even consider adding both to your routine.
Anyone familiar with the bench press will easily understand the floor press. The floor press is a bench press done on the floor instead of a bench, hence the name. To perform a floor press, set up a barbell on the floor, slide under the barbell, back to the ground, and position your hands on the barbell at about a shoulder-width apart. From there, push the barbell away from your body until your arms are straight. Return to the starting position. The floor press, like the bench press, is variable, meaning you can change up some of the details of the movement, such as the distance between your hands and from where on your torso you begin to press.
Most people learn the pushup in primary school physical education class. For a pushup, lie prone on the ground with your palms flat on the ground at about shoulder-width apart; this forces you to bend your elbows. Your toes should be pointed toward your head, with the floor under them. From this position, push your body upward by extending your arms. When your arms are straight, lower yourself back to the floor. You can also vary the spacing between your arms or keep your knees on the ground to change the difficulty level and the muscles engaged.
The main similarity between the pushup and floor press lies in the target muscle, the pectoralis sternum, which is the main muscle in your chest. Both pushups and floor presses allow for a reasonable amount of variation, such as allowing you to increase the distance between your hands to put more resistance on your chest or decrease the distance between your hands to put more resistance on your triceps. Both exercises also allow for convenient increases and decreases in difficulty. For the floor press, adding and removing weight can increase and decrease the difficulty, respectively. For the pushup, elevating your feet and using your knees can increase and decrease the difficulty, respectively.
The differences between the floor press and pushup are mainly details, but they still exist. Beginners who are mainly focused on initial strength and muscle growth should not concern themselves with these details. But for an intermediate-to-advanced exerciser, pushups could be more useful in that they engage more muscles than do floor presses. Unlike the floor press, which only requires you to push an object away from your body, the pushup requires you to push your body away from the floor while simultaneously holding your body in a straight position. This requires you to use more stabilizing muscles in the movement, including lower-body muscles such as the rectus abdominis and quadriceps. Another important difference is how the exerciser increases the difficulty of each exercise. You can easily increase the difficulty of the floor press by adding weight. But for the pushup, you must either elevate your feet on a high and stable surface or add weight to your body, such as by placing a weight on your back. The latter is difficult to do without a second pair of hands.